How to drive safely in hot weather

Darren Cassey, PA Motoring Reporter
·3-min read

After a long winter with cold, wet weather and strict lockdown rules in place, we’re getting the first hint of a heatwave – and just in time for another relaxation of lockdown rules.

You can now meet in a group of up to six people outside, or in a group of any size if limited to just two households. However, with this coinciding with warmer weather and a likelihood of increased traffic, the team at Bill Plant Driving School have put together their top tips on how to stay safe behind the wheel.

Do you need to drive at all?

Just because the rules have been relaxed to allow you to meet friends and take part in organised sport, remember that government advice is still to ‘minimise the number of journeys you make where possible’.

Traffic jam in Europe
Help avoid traffic jams by only taking the car when necessary. (YourParkingSpace)

So, before leaving, question whether you really need to take the car at all.

Check your car first

Over the lockdown months, there’s a good chance your car won’t have moved very far at all. Cars hate being left standing for prolonged periods of time, so if this is the case, give it a once over before it’s time to leave.

You want to check the battery has enough juice to start the car, check your tyres for cracks, damage or punctures, and make sure its vital fluids are at the right level.

Air conditioning
Air conditioning can be a life saver during a heatwave. (GEM Motoring Assist)

Maximise your air conditioning

If your car has air con it can be a life saver during a heatwave. To make the most of the cooling air you should leave it on at all times, while opening the rear windows can improve circulation and pull the hot air out.

It’s worth noting that using air con has a minor detrimental effect on your fuel economy, so use it sparingly if this is a concern. Also, it should blow ice cold air out of the vents – if it isn’t you might need to top up the gas that makes it work. This is another thing worth checking before you leave, as you don’t want to be caught without cool air in a traffic jam.

Keep water in the car

This could be particularly important for those who don’t have air conditioning. While on the move you can open the windows to get air flowing through the car, but if you find yourself stuck in traffic, the temperature can rise quickly inside a car. Water will help cool you down and avoid dehydration.

Shade is your friend

With all the glass cars have, they can get incredibly hot when parked in the sun. The best way to avoid this is to park in the shade, perhaps near a large tree or next to a building, or look for an indoor car park.

Failing that you can also buy a sun shade that is fitted to the windscreen. If you don’t have one of those you can even put a towel over the windscreen, trapping the edges in the doors to stop it blowing away or being stolen.